TeeJay Britton

MMA fighter kicks off Black History Month celebration at PBJHS
Posted on 02/28/2023
TeeJay "Bad Newz" Britton

Poplar Bluff native TeeJay “Bad Newz” Britton discussed his professional career as a mixed martial artist to the Junior High student body, kicking off a Black History Month series celebrating African American alumni making an impact beyond Missouri.

“If I can do it, I promise you, you can,” Britton told the seventh graders during the split assemblies held Wednesday, Feb. 15. Prior, he mentioned that he has “been one of these kids in this gym.”

While his mother was paralyzed from the waist down and his father struggled with addiction, he revealed, Britton was taught never to feel sorry for himself. “My mom would say, ‘What are you gonna do to change [your circumstances]?’”

A graduate of the PBHS Class of 2000, Britton maintains a winning featherweight record in MMA, according to Sherdog, including a victory in Bellator, the second largest promotion under UFC. Britton, now 40, says he has one more bout on his contract, along with two boxing matches, and hopes to have his next nationally televised fight in June, according to his agent.

He has won multiple championship belts, perhaps most notably under the Cage of Honor banner. At 6-foot-4, he maintains a height and reach advantage over many in the 145-pound weight division, and entered his martial arts career as a multi-sport athlete, having played professional basketball overseas, and was an All-American track and field runner.

“One thing that changed my life is being consistent,” Britton said to the audience. He can remember listening to a military spokesman back when he was in Junior High, and the most important piece of advice he received was simply to make his bed each morning. When Britton later contemplated the message, he realized its significance was that “no matter how your day’s going, when you come home, your bed’s gonna be made.”

He lost his first televised fight despite having a smooth weight cut and a training camp without injuries, Britton recalled. But instead of making excuses, he said he got back into “grind mode” and won his next match. “Everything can go right and you can still come out short, but how you respond to adversity is everything,” he said.

Before arriving at Junior High, Britton shared, he worked out at 5 a.m. and plans to return to the gym afterward, and practices multiple disciplines each day. “Motivation is gonna go away and leave, but successful people are consistent,” he explained. “…You can do anything you set your mind to, plus hard work.”

Britton said he writes down his goals, for example, adding to the dozen countries he has already visited, but most importantly, he asks himself what he is doing to ensure he achieves them. He tries to better himself daily which in turn helps influence those around him, including his five children he is raising with wife Britney, he said.

Britton advised the students that who they choose to surround themselves with is essential, and he had to change his mentality growing up. “Success breeds success,” stated Britton, who earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. “Respect will take you farther than anything.”

During a question and answer portion, Britton was asked about famous athletes he has met while practicing with the Houston Rockets or serving as an alternative on The Ultimate Fighter. Out of anyone, his favorite to watch, he responded, was his sister Tenisha Miller, a six-time state champion in Mules Track and Field.

Credited for arranging the visit, Junior High science teacher Solely Dugas is Britton’s niece. Junior High Principal Candace Warren also served as his English teacher. His appearance, which included talks with the multicultural world class and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was followed on Friday, Feb. 24, by returning keynote speaker and PBHS alumnus Cortez Higgs, founder of The Catalyst Effect, an intercity youth development program.


Cutline: Motivational speaker TeeJay “Bad Newz” Britton visits his former Junior High School to discuss with students his experiences as a professional mixed martial artist.

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.